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Blast Kills 2 Palestinians, 5 Israelis

January 13, 2005

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Two Palestinian militants were killed in an explosion at a busy crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip Thursday in what a militant group described as a ``martyrdom operation.″ Rescuers said five Israelis were injured.

A statement to The Associated Press from the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, affiliated with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, said the fighters were killed near the Karni crossing in southern Gaza.

Language such as ``martyrdom operation″ usually indicates a suicide attack against an Israeli target.

Israeli military officials said at least two Palestinians were involved in an attack in the area of the crossing. The Palestinians set off an explosive device weighing more than 220 pounds, Israel Radio reported.

Israeli rescue services said five Israelis in the area were injured by mortars fired by Palestinians. They said ambulances were having difficulty entering the area because of an exchange of gunfire between militants and Israeli forces.

The Karni attack came as a leader of the militant Hamas group indicated a willingness to consider halting operations against Israel.

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